Saturday, June 25, 2005

Black coffee, white me

The English is simply terrible here. That is a horrible thing to say, to negate a culture for not knowing a language that is not their own. If America was judged by its Chinese, that would be bad. But it does amaze me.
I am at a café sitting next to a woman who is studying English. But she seems exceptionally anti-English. She clearly has a test in it, and absolutely despises the whole thing.
Because it is monsoon season, everyone who scooters around, in other words, everyone, owns jumpsuits for the rain. But they are these horrible blue things, that would have been ugly even in the eighties. The problem is that apparently those are the only ones for sale. All the teachers have matching blue jumpsuits, and I have yet to see a jumpsuit that does not have that same exact style. Its like a uniform for the dry.
One thing I must give them, the coffee is so strong. I ordered the girliest drink I saw, the ice cream coffee. It came out as basically a large cup of espresso with ice cubes and ice cream. It was good, but so much. I was going to say that the place was a constant assault on the senses, but that is not quiet true.
It is true that my taste buds are doing their work. Constant pickled, spiced, salty, sweet, powerful things. Some are bad, some are good, but everything makes a lasting impression. Breakfast for me is typically light, because most of the dishes are a real hammer to the taste buds. There is also a great deal of variety. My dish last night included everything from the aforementioned chicken skin, to a split up hot dog. Which, to my surprise, tasted like a split open hot dog (it looked like a little octopus).
There are also a lot of smells. However, it is no Bangkok. Heck, it is not even Guadalajara. The smells are powerful, but not overwhelming. Occasionally you want to jump off the nearest bridge, but its very rare to have an extended period where you just can't take it.
Sight is pretty active. Not a Hong Kong, but definitely on its way. This was part of the reason I got so lost. There is so much stimuli on every street, that it is hard to separate the big streets from the little streets.
However, the biggest curiosity is sound. It is still a city, but it definitely does not have the flare of most Asian cities. Typically, cars don't honk unless someone really deserves it (stuff that would get American honks is a common affair here, its the absolutely nutty stuff that gets treatment. My favorite part about the sounds, no one yells. That, probably more than even the nose assaults of some cities really bothers me. You pass constant stores, but not a single person has yelled a single thing at me. No demands to go into their store. No propels to buy anything. In fact, the only beggar I have run into did it in sign language. In fact, I can't think of a city so free of yelling. Whether it be Jesuits praising on Pearl Street, or Shanghai merchants screaming, it is comparatively eerily silent here.
My dad pointed out that Tainan is supposed to be filled with malls. But to my surprise, I have not found one. I finally found a whole well of young people, and only stopped to have a coffee and write this out. Today I will try to find my first mall. That said, in a way, it seems like this whole place is a mall. Perhaps I am just in the commercial district, but stores are at least every two lots. The problem is that they are all the same stores. About 20% cell phones (yet none of them have SIM cards for silent foreigners), 25% 7-11 and 7-11 like stores, 10% pharmacies, 10% clothing, 15% scooters, and the majority of the remainder goes to food shops, which are probably even larger than that.
I like a day where your major goal is to find a mall.

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